Aussie company’s $1.85b supermarket move
The company behind one of Hungry Jack's favourite burgers is now selling its trademark patties in grocery stores in two Aussie states.
Plant-based "meat" company v2food, which has partnered with the CSIRO, Main Sequence Ventures and Jack Cowin's Competitive Foods Australia, which owns Hungry Jack's, has already rolled out the fast-food giant's incredibly popular Rebel Whopper burger.
It has won over many of the county's biggest meat-eaters as it tastes like the real thing but is made of legumes, sunflower oil and coconut fat.
But now, the Aussie firm is making its first foray into the supermarket sector, with v2food mince and burger products stocked at all 61 outlets of Drakes Supermarkets in South Australia and Queensland ahead of a wider expansion into other grocery chains.
The items will be easy to find - and located in the meat aisle.
According to Meat and Livestock Australia, in 2017-18, the red meat and livestock industry contributed $18.5 billion to our Gross Domestic Product.
Late last year, v2food founder and CEO Nick Hazell said the company was set to become a "billion-dollar company" within years as the meat-free market exploded in popularity.
It raised $35 million in a Series A funding round last November and plans to establish its own factory.
But v2food now estimates its expansion into the wider supermarket sector could see the company muscle in on between five to 10 per cent of Australia's overall meat sector - which could potentially represent $1.85 billion.
"This is the first time something so good and so close to meat is actually being positioned in the meat aisle at the same price (as mince). We've taken it out of the vegan niche and into the mainstream," Mr Hazell told news.com.au.
"When you ask a group how many are vegans or vegetarians it is only a small percentage, but if you ask how many are reducing their meat intake it is more like 70 per cent - that's a big proportion of the Australian population."
Mr Hazell said his products tasted so similar to meat they could be substituted into classic recipes like spaghetti bolognese and chilli con carne with no fuss and because they cost the same as premium mince, it was easy for consumers to make the switch.
"Ultimately our mission is that we want to be number one in Australia but also to actually export our meat to the world - absolutely we want (it) to be available wherever meat is bought," he said. "v2food doesn't see an end to some meat dishes at the dinner table but it is only by encouraging shoppers to embrace plant-based alternatives that we can sustainably feed the world's growing population - which is expected to hit 10 billion by 2050.
"That's why it is incredibly encouraging that a retail leader like Drakes is taking the initiative to put plant-based meat in the meat aisle. We want the general public to know that v2food looks, cooks and tastes as good as the meat version right next to it."
General manager fresh food at Drakes Supermarkets, Tim Cartwright, told news.com.au the chain had jumped at the chance to partner with v2food as customers had increasingly been after Australian-made meat alternatives.
"Is it a growing trend? Yes, absolutely - more customers are coming in wanting veg-based options and v2food mince and patties can be used with hardly any change in the texture on the palate," he said.
"It's quite amazing and to be honest, kids won't know the difference unless you tell them, and it won't cost you any more (to buy)."
He said not only were the products meeting customer demands, it was also helping Drakes achieve its sustainability goals.
Since launching in October 2019, v2food is currently on the menu in independent cafes and restaurants, Soul Burger, Marley Spoon, Dinnerly, Burger King New Zealand and at over 420 Hungry Jack's stores locally via The Rebel Whopper.
Originally published as Aussie company's $1.85b supermarket move